View Poll Results: How will you vote (or have you voted) in the Marriage Law Postal Survey

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  1. #2566
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    The truth is that it's always very difficult to draw clear lines where there are conflicts of rights - and there will always be conflicts. It's much easier to invent rights for non-park owning homophobic groundswomen. In the end, it's usually a matter of prejudice on all sides - and ineluctably so (which is not to suggest that we should throw the classical liberal baby out with the murky bathwater, but maybe to acknowledge that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision says more about the composition of the Court than whether Philips should have to make the cake - and no, i don't know how Kennedy will vote). Some cases are easier than others, of course. In the case of taxpayers subsidising religious instruction, only someone with an axe to grind could seriously believe that the Commonwealth subsidy to faith based schools is used to fund religious instruction. It isn't. It's used to pay teachers of English, Science, History and Maths. One consequence of this is that the conditions of employment in faith based schools are often more onerous than in Government schools, since about 85% of recurrrent expenditure goes on teacher salaries. Only a tiny minority of private schools are drowning in cash -and, of course, it is properly the case that these schools already receive significantly less government support, since government support should always go to those who need it from those who can afford it. What actually happens in the case you mention is that the State imposes a significant financial penalty on parents who are religious, for no other reason than that they are religious - garden variety discrimination, in other words. It doesn't do this with health so much - because we have a medicare surcharge. Unless and until we have its educational equivalent, then we will continue to crow about the need to get rid of discrimination till the cows come home, while turning a blind eye where it doesn't suit us to see.
    Last edited by idledim; 11-12-2017 at 02:46 PM.

  2. #2567
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
    The amendments were just about providing the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation not protection of freedom of conscience. The people promoting these amendments are precisely the people who have traditionally opposed statutes to protect such freedoms in the past.

    If freedom of religion is something that we need then we need to have a bill of rights debate and legislate about all rights to ensure the rights of individuals to practice their religion does not lead to the restriction of others (like same-sex couples) to participate in society without discrimination.
    Professor Greg Craven has always argued strongly about the problems with a Bill of Rights and has also argued strongly for the need to protect freedom of conscience and religion. A simpler mechanism might be to adopt Article 18 - an amendment understandably defeated in the context of the Smith Bill, but still a way of allowing Australia to efficiently acquit its international obligations. I would be surprised if the Ruddock Review recommended adoption of a Bill of Rights as a remedy - but time will tell.

    Whatever it recommends, I hope it doesn't indulge in the silly conceit that religious freedom should only be allowed to the extent that no-one else feels discriminated against. That's exactly as sensible as saying that homosexual activity should only be allowed to the extent that religious people don't feel threatened. Both approaches beg everything and answer very little.
    What was unfortuntely clear on the day for all to see was that the homosexual activists gathered in the gallery cheered loudly and derisively as speakers for the amendments to the Smith Bill on changing the definition of marriage (henceforth known as the Rincewind False Narrative Bill) claimed that religious freedom was being eroded. It was clear from their cheering that this was exactly what they wanted - and I'm sure the dramatic irony of the P.M.'s call for more respect was as lost on them as it was on him. A sensitive balancing of competing rights is simply impossible unless respect is understood as a two way street.
    Last edited by idledim; 11-12-2017 at 02:55 PM.

  3. #2568
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    Quote Originally Posted by idledim View Post
    ... What actually happens in the case you mention is that the State imposes a significant financial penalty on parents who are religious, for no other reason than that they are religious - garden variety discrimination, in other words.
    This is not correct. Firstly, it is religious parents who send their children to religious schools who pay extra. If you are religious, but send your children to a state school, there is no extra charge. And parents who are not religious, but send their children to a religious school, also pay more. So there is no discrimination against religious parents for being religious.

  4. #2569
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Byrom View Post
    This is not correct. Firstly, it is religious parents who send their children to religious schools who pay extra. If you are religious, but send your children to a state school, there is no extra charge. And parents who are not religious, but send their children to a religious school, also pay more. So there is no discrimination against religious parents for being religious.
    I'm sure there are parents in all the categories you mention, but it doesn't change the simple substantive point - that in preferring secularism to the principle of need and imposing penalties on people who educate their children in faith-based communities, the State is discriminating against them. You seem to think that their religion is something they can throw on or off like a cloak - it isn't. An educare surcharge, like the medicare surcharge, would at least do something to restore the balance.

    In the same way, it is also discriminatory to charge heterosexual couples a venue hire fee for their wedding, but not charge homosexual couples any fee (which i understand to be the policy of the inner-west council in Sydney at the moment); and it's probably even discriminatory for governments to throw on taxpayer funded celebratory banquets for homosexual activists, while not offering the same opportunities to those who fought against them.
    Last edited by idledim; 11-12-2017 at 03:27 PM.

  5. #2570
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    Quote Originally Posted by idledim View Post
    I'm sure there are parents in all the categories you mention, but it doesn't change the simple substantive point - that in preferring secularism to the principle of need and imposing penalties on people who educate their children in faith-based communities, the State is discriminating against them. You seem to think that their religion is something they can throw on or off like a cloak - it isn't. An educare surcharge, like the medicare surcharge, would at least do something to restore the balance.
    Educating your children solely in a religious school is not a fundamental requirement of any religion I'm aware of. Religious parents can - and do - send their children to secular schools, but provide them with religious education at home or at Sunday School for free. After all, most of what they would learn in a religious school is no different to what they would learn in a secular school. And the government also financially supports parents who do choose religious schools.

    But this has absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

    Quote Originally Posted by idledim View Post
    In the same way, it is also discriminatory to charge heterosexual couples a venue hire fee for their wedding, but not charge homosexual couples any fee (which i understand to be the policy of the inner-west council in Sydney at the moment); and it's probably even discriminatory for governments to throw on taxpayer funded celebratory banquets for homosexual activists, while not offering the same opportunities to those who fought against them.
    Are these actually happening? But we do know that governments discriminated against gays for decades, so a little reverse discrimination (if it's actually happening) is just compensation for that.

    EDIT: My local library is holding a junior chess competition tomorrow, which discriminates against adults, and against non-chess playing juniors! Should I pass on a complaint from you
    Last edited by Patrick Byrom; 11-12-2017 at 06:28 PM. Reason: Example added.

  6. #2571
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    Are these actually happening?
    The banquet has already happened. The Council offer is still in place.

    But we do know that governments discriminated against gays for decades, so a little reverse discrimination (if it's actually happening) is just compensation for that.
    Discrimination on the basis of sexuality has been unlawful in South Australia since about 1975 - and in all Australian States since Tasmania finally did the right thing in about 1997 - and many Australian jurisdictions have offered formal apologies for it. Even if that were not the case, reversing discrimination is not a recipe for good policy. It's only result in this case will be to annoy at least 5 milion people and cause quite a few others to wonder. After all, as Newspoll reported as late as August, about 62% of Australians supported legal protections for religion in the event that SSM became law (with only about 20% opposed). There are many, like Father Brennan, who took the politicians at their word and voted yes in the hope that parliament would provide proper religious protections. They were encouraged in their hope by both leaders. I note that Bill Shorten has written to a number of religious leaders in recent days indicating in-principle support for the aims of the Ruddock review. Personally, I'll believe it when i see it.

    But this has absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
    The Ruddock Review is the response to issues that remain unresolved following the SSM debate. The issues are broader than SSM, but that doesn't make them irrelevant.

    After all, most of what they would learn in a religious school is no different to (sic) what they would learn in a secular school.
    That was not my experience in 30 years of teaching. Even if it were true, it would still be a case of imposing financial penalties on parents for exercising their conscience. In a non-discriminatory environment, you don't get to make those sorts of decisions on their behalf. In a world of limited resources, funding should go where it's needed and to those who need it (which is, after all, not unlike the principles espoused by Sydney Grammar School Old Boy, David Gonski).

    EDIT: My local library is holding a junior chess competition tomorrow, which discriminates against adults, and against non-chess playing juniors! Should I pass on a complaint from you
    I am confident that you will exercise your own discretion in a discriminating way, Patrick! Good luck with the tournament (I'll be the Junior dressed as Angus Young).
    Last edited by idledim; 11-12-2017 at 07:30 PM.

  7. #2572
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    Chavura writes:

    All Australians, religious or secular, should be free to decline participation in morally contentious events so long as it is no threat to others’ liberties, safety, or property.

    I would be interested in how one defines "participation" here. Supposedly a florist or cake-baker who provides flowers or cakes to a same-sex wedding, knowing that it is a same-sex wedding, is a participant, even if the florist or cake-baker is never actually present at the wedding. Why by the same token is not a taxpayer who pays taxes that are used to fund religious instruction a participant in the religious instruction? Where and on what basis can a line be drawn? What about, say, a homophobic groundskeeper who has found out that a same-sex wedding will be held in a park he maintains and wants the right to refuse to water the lawn because he considers that to be "participating"?
    What about the haircuts? Why should barbers have to act in contrast to their religious beliefs and give someone a haircut for a wedding?
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  8. #2573
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    Quote Originally Posted by idledim View Post
    In the case of taxpayers subsidising religious instruction, only someone with an axe to grind could seriously believe that the Commonwealth subsidy to faith based schools is used to fund religious instruction. It isn't. It's used to pay teachers of English, Science, History and Maths.
    It's actually not solely a "faith-based schools" issue. It's been an issue in state schools in some states in very recent years, though I haven't checked exactly how it is going there at present. But am I to believe that the provision of religious instruction incurs no costs to the school whatsoever? I find that rather unlikely. Probably, the costs are trivial, but that's not the point. The school could choose not to incur them and then it would require marginally less funding for everything else. The point is the ability of those who, on principle, might not want to support these costs to opt out of them.

    What actually happens in the case you mention is that the State imposes a significant financial penalty on parents who are religious, for no other reason than that they are religious - garden variety discrimination, in other words.
    That would, at most, apply if the religion unequivocally included a belief that a child must be schooled within a school of that religion. Even then, does the State discriminate against a parent who has a fanatically held belief that they must train their child to be a champion jockey if it refuses to buy that child an indefinite number of racehorses? Of course not. It is not discrimination to refuse to subsidise a belief that imposes a financial cost on the holder, whether or not that belief may be said to be unshakeably held.

    I like the idea that we provide some level of protection based on conscience (religious or otherwise). So, for instance, if a religious celebrant wants to refuse a same-sex couple I have no objection to that, provided that there is also provision for a private atheist celebrant to refuse to conduct weddings for a couple they disapprove of (eg, because one of them is known to oppose same-sex marriage, for example.) If the celebrant is working as a public servant for the state though, they leave their prejudices at the door by accepting such employment.

    I like the idea that a person providing seriously artistic services for hire is exempt from being forced to say something they don't believe in - so, for instance, a religious writer shouldn't be forced to accept a commission to pen a poem in celebration of a same-sex marriage. But where things fall more on the craft side than the serious artistic statement side (and this means the bakers, florists and so on) then if they want the right to not discriminate, then I want the absolute right for non-religious people to not be discriminated against too.

    An example of such discrimination includes being forced to subsidise the cost of prayers to open parliament. The prayers represent only one view and do not give any time to alternative views present in the parliament. At present, I let this go; it's just a minor irritant. But if religious service providers want exemptions from anti-discrimination laws when they are only providing craft services, then I want to not fund parliamentary prayers unless the prayers are replaced with a statement that is not exclusively religious. If the people arguing for strong interpretations of negative liberty are serious, they will uphold mine.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 11-12-2017 at 09:47 PM.

  9. #2574
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    Quote Originally Posted by idledim View Post
    You seem to think that their religion is something they can throw on or off like a cloak - it isn't.
    Well then, I've lost count of the number of "Christians" of various kinds who have told me that I could "choose to believe" what they believe if I wanted to, and even that it would be my fault and I could be eternally punished by their God if I didn't make such a "choice". More than happy to agree that religion should be treated as immutable, but doing so entails that the beliefs of the hellfire brigade about the way in which their supposedly just God interacts with unbelievers are both intellectually wrong and morally indefensible.

  10. #2575
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    That would, at most, apply if the religion unequivocally included a belief that a child must be schooled within a school of that religion. Even then, does the State discriminate against a parent who has a fanatically held belief that they must train their child to be a champion jockey if it refuses to buy that child an indefinite number of racehorses? Of course not. It is not discrimination to refuse to subsidise a belief that imposes a financial cost on the holder, whether or not that belief may be said to be unshakeably held.
    To broaden the issue, what about kosher or halal food, which is a religious requirement, and which also imposes a financial cost on the believer? If a Catholic education should be subsidised to avoid discrimination (even though it's not a fundamental requirement of that faith), should halal food also be subsidised to avoid discrimination against Muslims? But I can't actually imagine that the Ruddock Review would touch on either of these controversial issues.

  11. #2576
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    But am I to believe that the provision of religious instruction incurs no costs to the school whatsoever? I find that rather unlikely. Probably, the costs are trivial, but that's not the point. The school could choose not to incur them and then it would require marginally less funding for everything else. The point is the ability of those who, on principle, might not want to support these costs to opt out of them. KB
    No - you are not even required to fund the cost of religious instruction. There is no discrimination involved in any decision by the State not to fund religious instruction. Indeed, it would be discriminating against non-believers if it did so. But nor is this the issue. The issue is that the State provides less funds for children to study English, Maths, History and Science in faith-based schools than it provides for children to study English, Maths, History and Science in secualr schools. There is also no discrimination in providing more funds for some students than other students, so long as their needs are the governing principle. It costs about 4 times as much in some circumstances, for instance, to provide educational services to indigenous students than to non-indigenous students. However, in circumstances where the only meaningful difference is that one school is religious and the other is secular, the decision to discriminate is as deplorable as it is blindingly obvious.

    That would, at most, apply if the religion unequivocally included a belief that a child must be schooled within a school of that religion. Even then, does the State discriminate against a parent who has a fanatically held belief that they must train their child to be a champion jockey if it refuses to buy that child an indefinite number of racehorses? Of course not. It is not discrimination to refuse to subsidise a belief that imposes a financial cost on the holder, whether or not that belief may be said to be unshakeably held. KB
    Apart from noting my concerns that you seem to think that the jockeys are the ones who own the horses, i have no real issues with this - though, again, it sidesteps and avoids the issue of discrimination by creating a straw man to be demolished. It would be discriminatory if the government was happy to purchase a bunch of horses for potential jockeys in one school, but refused to purchase horses on the grounds that other potential jockeys were also receiving religious instruction when they weren't zipping around the track. It is reasonable for government to determine the core curriculum,in other words, but having determined it, it is unreasonable to discriminate on the grounds of religion. Yet this is exactly what governments do.

    More than happy to agree that religion should be treated as immutable, but doing so entails that the beliefs of the hellfire brigade about the way in which their supposedly just God interacts with unbelievers are both intellectually wrong and morally indefensible. KB
    I also have very little time for the ' hellfire brigade,' but it was already a caricature when Tom Keneally played the part in Fred Schepisi's The Devil's Playground. It was even already on the nose when James Joyce satirised it in A portrait of the artist as a young man (1916). I certainly don't see contemporary Christianity as a 'hellfire brigade' religion these days. However, the obvious point in the case we both seem to abhor is that freedom of speech is actually only ever the issue in cases we disagree with or find offensive. I do not want the State funding any religious instruction, but nor do i think Muslims should receive less funding for the provision of English, History, Maths and Science because they voted no to SSM, or because they think (as they mostly seem to do) that homosexuality is unclean and that homosexuals should be either imprisoned or killed.

    To broaden the issue, what about kosher or halal food, which is a religious requirement, and which also imposes a financial cost on the believer? If a Catholic education should be subsidised to avoid discrimination (even though it's not a fundamental requirement of that faith), should halal food also be subsidised to avoid discrimination against Muslims? But I can't actually imagine that the Ruddock Review would touch on either of these controversial issues. PB
    Again: it is not the religious requirement that creates discrimination. It is the differential treatment in the provision of State mandated services, where the difference is on the basis of whether the school is also instructing those in its care in the belief system that informs it. If the government provided free food to children in secular schools, of course it should also provide halal food to children in Muslim schools. Since it doesn't, the issue of discrimination simply doesn't arise with respect to halal food.

    You are quite right in pointing out that the Ruddock review will not go within a bull's roar of this issue. Why would it? It's main purpose has already been achieved, namely: to get the SSM debate 'done and dusted' before Christmas. However, failure to consider doesn't equal absence - and absolutely not in the case of education, in which structural financial discrimination is so deeply embedded.
    Last edited by idledim; 12-12-2017 at 09:46 AM.

  12. #2577
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    I have moved some posts that consisted wholly or very largely of debate about private vs public school funding to a new thread:

    http://www.chesschat.org/showthread....-sex-marriage)

    During the same-sex marriage survey process I removed the "strictly on topic" requirement for this thread in the interests of free public debate about the postal survey while it was in progress, including respecting that it was important for people to be allowed to say whatever they thought was relevant was relevant, even where their view was obviously false. Over time as a moderator I'll be gradually steering this thread back towards a more on-topic status (while probably not helping all that much with this as a poster!) but it's to be expected that debate about same-sex marriage related protections will also run into broader discrimination debates.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 12-12-2017 at 07:50 PM.

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